Keep Your Plow On The Road

An ounce of prevention ensures at ton of assurances that your equipment will be ready to hit the road when the snow falls.

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By Nate Kallay

One of the easiest yet most impactful tactics you can implement as part of your snow and ice management strategy is regularly scheduled maintenance. Maintenance not only reduces incidents of breakdowns during the season, but it gives way to significant cost savings. Proactive care of all snow fighting equipment is critical to provide the service clients expect from professionals. Therefore, educate yourself and your snow removal team about the tenets of maintenance. Here are nine key best practices to follow for preseason, in-season, and postseason maintenance.

Know What’s in Your Way

Take a drive through your usual route and note any large, immovable objects or any landscaping objects. You can do this by using driveway markers, which are inexpensive to purchase. By marking the territory, you’ll be able to see the boundaries of the area you need to plow, even in deep snow. You’ll also be alerted to anything lurking below the snow that could damage your plow or cutting edge. Once you know where they are, be sure you’re using snowplow blades that maneuver over these road obstructions.

Clean And Paint

It’s not exactly a secret that salt has a corrosive effect on snowplows and cutting edges. Water is also just as damaging. When salty water meets raw metal, it oxidizes, creating rust. It’s likely that there is a powder coating on your snowplow’s metal components. This performs like a barrier between the metal and salty water. If there are any scratches in the barrier, this also increases the chances of rusting. If your crew regularly paints over these scratches, rusting is less likely to occur. Remember, maintenance is key, and rust is the enemy. Clear the salt and chemicals from all plow components after every snow event.

Brush Up

Before installing your cutting edge, use a wire brush to remove rust and debris from your plow. Using a wire brush will help strip the surface to the bare metal, so you can paint and put a protective coat over it. Wire brushes are also the fastest and less aggressive compared to grinding and sanding when removing rust. Removing the rust keeps the area clean and supports better performance by the cutting edge over time.

Don’t Be a Flake

If you have a snowplow with chrome lift rods, rust can cause them to flake. Flakes will migrate up into the plow’s lift cylinder, which means expensive fixes for your equipment. The best defense against this is regular lubrication of the chrome rods, which you can accomplish by collapsing them.

Grease is Good

Ensure that all electrical connections are coated with non-conductive dielectric grease, which helps seal electrical connections and protect them from moisture. Moisture in electrical connections can lead to serious damage to the snowplow’s electrical system. Perform this task mid-season to prevent problems during weather events.

Down the Drain

It’s vital to drain the snowplow pump’s hydraulic fluid. Over time, condensation can accumulate inside the pump as it’s being used. Allowing the liquid to stay there creates oxidation in the pump’s reservoir, rusting its interior. Additionally, be sure to calibrate your hydraulic system multiple times each season.

Metal Fatigue

Harsh weather conditions and constant stress can cause your plow to wear down over time. Check the mountings, frames, and cutting edges to see if there’s any damage. Examine all the iron-based components (including welds and re-torque nuts and bolts) and note any cracks.

Loose Parts Lead to Loss

Not only can loose parts affect the performance of your plow, they create a very dangerous situation for anyone operating the machine. Perform visual inspections daily during the snow season. Increase those inspections to multiple times a day during very heavy weather systems. Here are a few things to check during a visual inspection:

  • Check trip springs for proper tension. Are they tight and intact?
  • Check plow bolts. Are they loose in any way?
  • Ensure mounting points are in good condition and devoid of cracks or chips. Make sure the fasteners secure and in place?
  • Determine if cutting edges are showing signs of wear and tear. If so, replace these ASAP.
  • Check if the snowplow’s wear shoes are worn down. Also ensure that all the nuts and bolts are in place.

Make Maintenance a Priority

It is recommended that pre-season maintenance be coupled with continual maintenance during the season. Simple tasks, such as monitoring the snowplow pump’s oil level, hydraulic or electric system, clearing rust, checking plow bolts and calibrating your hydraulic system can make all the difference. Proper care of your snowplow is important for getting the most use out of your plow and keeping roads clear and safe.

Snow Magazine contributor Nate Kallay is the director of sales and marketing for Cleveland-based Winter Equipment.

October 2022
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